What Is the Pet Passport?

Pet Travel Center

When preparing for international travel, most people immediately think of their passports. What pet owners may not realize is that pets need a form of passport as well. Though your pet’s passport may not be in the shape of a little booklet like yours, their documentation is equally as important when traveling to other countries, or occasionally other parts of the same country. Therefore, pet owners need to prepare and secure their pet’s passport well before any travel begins.

Where a Pet Passport Is Needed

Within the European Union (EU), an actual pet passport is required for travel between member countries. Pet owners in the EU receive a blue booklet from their veterinarian, indicating that their pet’s rabies vaccination and other immunizations are current. This allows for easy travel within the European Union.

Outside of the EU, most countries do not require pets to have a specific passport booklet. However, pets are expected to have passport material and documentation to visit or relocate to other countries. This paperwork substantiates the status of your pet’s health, immunizations, and even microchipping in some cases.

Customs officials in all areas will ask to see your pet’s passport paperwork, just as they would your own, to allow and approve entry into the country. If you are unaware of your destination’s pet passport requirements, or if you are unprepared to produce full and accurate documentation, your travel may be subject to significant delays. Also, your pet would be at risk of quarantine in a facility without you.

Your veterinarian can ensure you have everything needed for your pet passport as long as you provide adequate time and information.

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The Purpose of a Pet Passport

It may seem strange that a pet would need a passport. However, this documentation of your pet’s health is essential when visiting a different country or region. Of course, pet owners should have confirmation from their vet that their pet is prepared, healthy enough, and certified for travel. In addition, proper paperwork can ease travel stress, delays, and other potential issues at customs or a country’s border.

The primary purpose of a pet passport involves a concern with rabies. Underst andably, countries that are free of rabies intend to keep their status intact. Countries that have low cases of rabies, or rabies-controlled status, aim to prevent any further spreading or additional cases. Therefore, one purpose of a pet passport is to verify with original veterinary documentation that pets entering a country are fully vaccinated and rabies-free.

Other purposes of pet passports and travel documentation are to indicate that your pet is healthy enough to enter another country. And they offer proof of responsible pet ownership.

A pet passport identifies health  and ownership of the pet when traveling to different regions.
A pet passport identifies health and ownership of the pet when traveling to different regions.

Don’t Pass Up on Getting a Pet Passport

If you are traveling or relocating internationally with your pet, do research all pet policies, required paperwork, and necessary procedures stipulated by the destination country.

Research on your destination’s pet policies should be done at least six months before travel to prepare for yourself and your pet.

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Otherwise, pet owners may face two unexpected possibilities:

1. Delays

Though six months sounds like a long time, it is often the minimum needed to plan visits to another country or region with your pet. You may face long delays during the customs process or at border checkpoints if the pet passport is incomplete or inaccurate. These delays can cause serious stress for pet owners and their pets.

2. Quarantine

Any incomplete or inaccurate documentation may result in quarantine in an animal facility at your destination. Quarantine is generally related to rabies concerns and is dependent upon the rabies classification of both the areas of origination and destination. A quarantine can result in distress and confusion for your pet, so it’s best to avoid it altogether.


No matter where you go internationally, each area requires documentation of your pet’s health and proof of rabies vaccine—at minimum. Pet owners should underst and that every country sets its regulations for pet entry and potential animal quarantine, and such rules are subject to change. Therefore, pet owners should consult their veterinarians as soon as they think of international travel or relocation. This will allow enough time to research and prepare everything necessary for the pet passport.

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